Game Theory of Zoning

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The London YIMBY group requested this page because it believes that understanding electoral game theory is key to getting YIMBY reforms enacted and keeping them in force. Please add anything helpful!

Vicki Been and others wrote recently (emphasis added):

Our stringent empirical testing of the predictions we argue follow from the growth machine and homevoter theories reveals surprising support for the homevoter–based model. New York City is not Scarsdale or Greenwich, for any number of reasons, but it too pays extraordinary attention to the interests of homeowners, even when those homeowners are a minority of voters. That finding demands attention from the academics, policymakers, and judges who seek to contain the potential land use decisions have to waste precious resources, drive up the cost of housing and of doing business, and threaten the equality of opportunity available to many families. Or to frame the call more positively, those who wish to harness the power of cities to foster innovation and problem-solving, reduce energy use and the associated global warming, and improve the quality of life residents enjoy sustainably, must consider how to control the influence risk-averse homeowners have over land use decisions that will interfere with those goals.

Game theory, particularly Prisoner's Dilemma, is discussed by David Schleicher in this 2012 interview in Forbes.
"The Stagnant City: How Urban Politics Are Stalling Growth and Pushing Rents Up." 

this is referenced in 
"The prisoner’s dilemma of local-only planning," by Daniel Hertz, City Observatory 15.9.2015.

The Zoning Game by Richard Babcock, 1966, a witty classic of zoning literature, is not Game Theory, per se, but expresses some related spirit perhaps. 


Hilber, Christian A.L. and Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric, On the Origins of Land Use Regulations: Theory and Evidence from US Metro Areas, December 2009,

David Schleicher, City Unplanning, 122 Yale L.J. 1670 (2013),

Vicki Been et al., Urban Land-Use Regulation: Are Homevoters Overtaking the Growth Machine?, 11 J. EMPIRICAL LEGAL STUD. 227 (2014),